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Energy modeling helps deliver Richmond school's great efficiency

Image of Brighouse Elementary School
Richmond's Brighouse Elementary school could use as much as 30 per cent less electricity than a comparable school. Engineers used an energy-modeling study to simulate how much the school would use, even before it was built.

'We could show that it was worth the money to install these measures'

Lauded as an architectural and sustainability gem, Richmond's Brighouse Secondary extremely high efficiency was no accident. Energy modelling guaranteed it would deliver savings.

The building's design team completed an energy-modeling study as part of BC Hydro's New Construction Program. The study is a simulation of how much energy a building day and night will use throughout a year.

Designers can compare various lighting, heating and cooling systems as well as windows, roofing, wall and other products, and even look at how the building is situated on the site, to determine the most energy-efficient design.

"We were able to model different solutions," says J.S. Tessier, Associate Principal of Integral Group (formerly Cobalt Engineering). "We looked at every little measure — what happens if we put in a radiant floor, for example, or triple glazing instead of double — and then show the client the results.

"We could show that it is worth the money to install these measures, because the long-term savings in energy are really worthwhile."

The original energy-modeling study showed that, by building-in a range of energy-conservation measures, the new Brighouse Elementary could use as much as 30 per cent less electricity than a comparable school. In fact, since the school in March 2011, it has been performing much better than the building's designerspredicted.

"We're very happy with it," says Tessier. "The systems are operating well."

For Tracy Blagdon, Manager of Energy and Sustainability for Richmond School District, one of the best energy-saving features is the blue light indicator on the classroom windows.

"I love this," she says. "We know the students love fresh air, and this feature puts the control in their hands: the blue light goes on when the environmental conditions are right for opening the windows."

She also loves the fact that the new school is more than just an attractive space.

"It was important for it not just to look pretty," says Tracy, "but to be a place where students, teachers and neighbours experience sustainability every day. It shows that sustainability is possible even within a limited budget.

"Funding for new schools is definitely not unlimited, but with a great design team and the help of incentives from BC Hydro, NRCan and others, we accomplished this great place for learning."

Brighouse Elementary does wonders with water, too

The school conserves water and manages storm water through the use of low-flow fixtures and site grading that directs runoff into a series of constructed wetlands.

This helps keep the playing fields dry in the winter and creates a natural habitat that attracts native wildlife.

Read about how students played a role in Brighouse Secondary's design

About Power Smart's New Construction Program

The New Construction Program provides financial incentives for new commercial, institutional and multi-unit residential buildings and major retrofits.

If you qualify, BC Hydro will fund up to 100 per cent of an energy modelling study that can be used towards your LEED certification and to apply for FortisBC capital incentives (some restrictions apply).

Find out more about the New Construction Program or call 604 522 4713 or 1 866 522 4713.